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World Cup Scores: All Tied Up

posted by mkress

After all the hoopla, all the anticipation, the World Cup 2010 competition opens with… a 1-1 tie between Mexico and host country South Africa. Yes, folks, sports can end in a tie, a draw, Even Steven, and not just in […]

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Orthodox Jewish Boxer Takes to the Ring, After 9:14 PM

posted by mkress

I am not the world’s biggest boxing fan, which is my way of saying that two grown men pummeling each other seems to me like a criminal act, not a sport. Still, I make exceptions now and again, and I […]

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Ben Stiller Goes Hebrew on Oscar Night

posted by mkress

One of my favorite moments of last night’s Oscars show was Ben Stiller’s “Avatar” spoof, when he presented the award for best makeup in blue-face (and blue-tail) Nav’i get-up, with his speech mixing English and, of course, Na’vi. Alas, all […]

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Is LeBron James Jewish?

posted by mkress

LeBron James, basketball phenomenon…. and a Member of the Tribe? I often tease my people about our collective obsession with the question of whether this celebrity or that is Jewish. But this one is a real mystery, and a big […]

Another Opening Day is Here, and Thank God for It

posted by mkress

Despite the rain pouring down here in New York City, despite the recession, despite the unsettling feelings pervading so much of our lives these days, another Opening Day is here for Major League Baseball. And not a moment too soon–a […]

Curt Schilling Retires from the Red Sox

posted by mkress

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has announced his retirement, and I read the news with a mixture of sadness and admiration–sadness that we won’t get to watch one of the most dominant pitchers of our time anymore, admiration that he’s […]

Watch Clip: Apple’s Steve Wozniak on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

posted by mkress

It’s a shame that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is injured and had to drop out of “Dancing With the Stars.” Maybe it’s just the dorky two-left-footed dancer in me, but this is just about the most inspiring bit of television […]

Lindsay Lohan Converting to Judaism?

posted by mkress

Things are apparently serious enough between Lindsay Lohan and girlfriend Samantha Ronson for Lindsay to be considering converting to Judaism, Ronson’s faith. From the Daily Mail: Although raised a Catholic, the 22-year-old star announced she was planning to change her […]

Prayers for Travolta, Anger from Scientologists

posted by mkress

As a parent, it’s impossible not to feel the anguish that John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, are feeling right now as they mourn the death of their son, Jett. It makes you want to hug your kids a […]

Tim Russert on Fatherhood

posted by mkress

In his Idol Chatter entry about Tim Russert, Patton Dodd put voice to the loss we, his fans, feel at his sudden death. There’s another side of Russert that I’ve been focused on, however: Tim Russert the devoted father and […]

Steven Curtis Chapman: A Heartbreaking Video

posted by mkress

We all grieve for Steven Curtis Chapman’s loss of his daughter. Today, in memory of her and as a way for fans to grieve, an entry in Chapman’s video blog featuring him with his beautiful children in much happier times […]

Can Oprah Save Reality TV from Itself?

posted by mkress

“Oprah’s Big Give,” which debuted last night on ABC, offers reality TV the Winfrey way–sans back-stabbing, snarkiness, and rauchiness. So, will anyone watch it as it proceeds through its eight-week run? Put another way, does wholesome reality TV have a […]

A Next-Generation Idol Chatter Blogger

posted by mkress

A picture too cute not to share: my daughter, the pop-culture junkie, reading Entertainment Weekly at the tender age of 13 months. Look for her to join the roster of bloggers at Idol Chatter c.2026.

My New Frenemy: Famed Singer-Songwriter Donovan

posted by mkress

Here at Beliefnet, we’re frequently asked to comment in the media about religious happenings and headlines, and this morning I was a guest on the local NPR station’s “Brian Lehrer Show,” discussing the death of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The other […]

Oprah and Eckhart in ’08

posted by mkress

Biggest news on the spirituality rialto: Oprah’s book club choice in March will be Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” It’s the first time Oprah has chosen a book from the self-help/spirituality genre. “This is my […]

Beliefnet Film Awards 2008

posted by mkress

This year’s Beliefnet Film Awards are now live and waiting for your votes! As in past year’s we’ve named five nominees in each of three categories: Best Spiritual Film, Best Spiritual Performance, Best Spiritual Documentary. To see who was nominated, […]

Video: ‘Moment of Truth’

posted by mkress

Last week, Ellen Leventry reviewed Fox’s new reality show “Moment of Truth“–wherein contestants answer questions while hooked up to a polygraph machine–and said she is unsure of the show’s ethical implication. Here’s video from one recent episode. What do you […]

Meadow Soprano, a Member of the Family

posted by mkress

Who knew? Jamie-Lynn Sigler, best known for her role as Tony’s daughter Meadow on “The Sopranos,” is Jewish–and recently visited Israel with the Birthright Israel program, which runs free tours of Israel for Jewish college students and young adults. The […]

U2 in 3D: Music to Change the World

posted by mkress

Unlike some of my colleagues here at Beliefnet, I am not a huge music person. I’ve got my favorite tunes and artists, but I don’t live and breathe music, there isn’t a soundtrack to my life constantly playing at home […]

Tom Cruise, Scientology’s Fundamentalist Spokesman

posted by mkress

Mark Oppenheimer has spent the past year reporting on Scientology, and his articles for The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and elsewhere are some of the most informative and balanced that you’ll find anywhere. Mark has now turned his attention […]

‘American Idol’ Inspiration

posted by mkress

Finally, ‘American Idol’ is back, with its new season kicking off tonight. If you’re a fan, check out our new ‘American Idol’ group to dissect the new season and talk about your favorite contestants from years past. Click here to […]

Top 10 Christian TV Characters

posted by mkress

When I wrote about my top 10 favorite Jewish television characters, the response was sharp and the debate robust. So, in these days of TV-strike doldrums, I figured it was time to come up with a list of the top […]

Exclusive Clip: ‘The Great Debaters’

posted by mkress

Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters” is still racking up critical acclaim and awards buzz, while seeking to build a bigger audience at the box office. The film tells the based-on-truth story of the debate team at a small African-American college […]

Tell Us Your New Year’s Resolution, Win a Prize

posted by mkress

Watch an exclusive clip from the movie “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and then read below to find out how to enter to win prizes related to this critically acclaimed new film: Click to Watch What is your new […]

Denzel Washington’s ‘Great Debaters’

posted by mkress

Already nominated for a Golden Globe, “The Great Debaters” opens Christmas Day. It’s Denzel Washington’s second time behind the camera as director (the first was “Antwone Fisher”). Watch a clip: Click to Launch Video When you’re done watching, read my […]

First Glimpse: ‘Prince Caspian,’ the Next Narnia Movie

posted by mkress

It’s not coming out until May, but you can get into the Narnia spirit with this first trailer for “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”: Click to Play Trailer

‘In God’s Name’ Explores the Big Issues

posted by mkress

This Sunday, CBS will air a documentary, “In God’s Name,” that interviews 12 spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict XVI, about “myriad issues in our post-9/11 world, including the rise of terrorism, fanaticism, intolerance, and war,” according […]

‘The Kite Runner’ Takes Flight

posted by mkress

A movie adaptation of the massively popular novel “The Kite Runner” opens today in theaters. We’ve got a bunch of great features about it: Interview with author Khaled Hosseini Movie Mom’s review of “The Kite Runner” Movie Mom interviews the […]

Enter to Win: ‘What Would Jesus Buy?’

posted by mkress

Not just a movie, “What Would Jesus Buy?” is also a book, and you can win it. To enter, post your answer to this question: What would Jesus say about Christmas in America today? Would he be proud that the […]

‘Golden Compass': A Christian Parent’s View

posted by mkress

This is the last in a series of blog posts about “The Golden Compass” by guest blogger Tony Watkins, author of “Dark Materials: Shedding Light on Philip Pullman’s Trilogy ‘His Dark Materials.’” Eyebrows are sometimes raised in my direction when […]

‘Saving Grace': Sneak Peek

posted by mkress

Take a sneak peek at Monday night’s new episode of “Saving Grace” (for mature audiences only!): Click to Launch Video Explore more ‘Saving Grace’ features, including more video, reviews, discussion, and galleries by clicking here.

What ‘The Golden Compass’ Really Says About Pullman’s Belief

posted by mkress

This is the second in a series of blog posts about “The Golden Compass” by guest blogger Tony Watkins, author of “Dark Materials: Shedding Light on Philip Pullman’s Trilogy ‘His Dark Materials.‘” I wonder how aware Philip Pullman is of […]

10 Spiritual Lessons from ‘The Golden Compass’

posted by mkress

Frequent Idol Chatter visitors are well aware of blogger Donna Freitas’ love for “The Golden Compass” and Philip Pullman. In several blog posts and a series of videos, she has articulated her belief–contrary to the outcries of many Christians angered […]

The LeeVees: How Do You Spell Channukkahh?

posted by mkress

Happy However-You-Spell-It to all who are celebrating it!

A “Savage”ly Funny Movie About a Heartbreaking Topic

posted by mkress

Siblings putting their father in a nursing home may hardly seem like the stuff of great movies, but thanks to a couple of amazing performances and a large dose of humor mixed into its drama, “The Savages” is touching, funny, […]

Letterman Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

posted by mkress

Kudos to David Letterman for paying his “Late Show” staff out of his own pocket while production on his nightly show is shut down because of the writers strike. The news comes at the same time as reports that Letterman […]

Most Controversial Movies of All Time

posted by mkress

Religion and the movies can be a combustible mix. It’s sometimes led to protests, boycotts, even threats, and at least one tragic act of murder. Click here to see our Top 10 list of the most controversial religious movies of […]

Exclusive Clip: ‘What Would Jesus Buy?’

posted by mkress

Save Christmas from the Shopocalypse! That’s the mission of Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir–ending the consumerism and over-consumption they see as rampant in our holiday season. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, of “Supersize Me” fame, tells their […]

National Geographic’s Graphic Exorcism

posted by mkress

No Downloads, No Peace: Hollywood Writers Strike

posted by mkress

The idea of the likes of “Grey’s Anatomy” writer Shonda Rhimes on the picket line because of her measly $5 million salary may be laughable–can’t wait to see Tom Hanks out there protesting his $25 million/film–but the Hollywood writer’s strike […]

‘Bella’ and the Christian Market

posted by mkress

Interesting post by Rod Dreher over at Crunchy Con about the new movie “Bella,” which is being heavily marketed to Christians. The movie is about a woman who becomes pregnant by accident and is planning to have an abortion until […]

Zuckerman in Twilight

posted by mkress

Philip Roth’s newest novel, “Exit Ghost” is the ninth–and, it seems, last–to feature Roth’s favorite character and alter-ego, the famous American-Jewish novelist Nathan Zuckerman. We’d first encountered Zuckerman nearly 30 years ago in 1979’s “The Ghost Writer,” a novel that, […]

Green Peacock

posted by mkress

Kudos to NBC for next week’s Green Week, seven days of green-themed programs. No, they’re not pre-empting our cherished shows for news and documentary reporting on the environment–they’re weaving this theme into everything on the NBC schedule. That means you […]

Don Cheadle’s Darfur Documentary

posted by mkress

Don Cheadle, so amazing in “Hotel Rwanda,” returns to Africa for his latest movie. This one is a documentary about a subject as serious as the Rwanda genocide, but more immediate and pressing, since it is happening today, now. Watch […]

Our Favorite On-Screen Angels

posted by mkress

Angels are everywhere these days, at least on TV and in movies. So, of course, we had to do a Top 10 of our favorite on-screen angels from the past 15 years. Check out our picks here, and use the […]

Father, Son, and Holy Rockies

posted by mkress

Patton Dodd may believe God likes the Colorado Rockies, but over at J-Walking, David Kuo wonders if Jesus wants the Rocks to lose the World Series. Are they pointing to a Heavenly Father-Son rift? Hardly. David’s not saying Jesus has […]

Finally, a Health Benefit of TV

posted by mkress

Yes, it’s true. Eventually, it was bound to happen: a reason to watch TV. And not just any TV, but specifically “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” featuring the social misfit Larry David himself. Sure, the benefits are specifically for schizophrenia patients whose […]

‘Evan Almighty’ DVD Winners

posted by mkress

So what does God look like to you? A few weeks ago, we posed this question, promising that the best 10 responses will win copies of “Evan Almighty on DVD.” More than 300 of you submitted entries, and here are […]

‘Lars & the Real Girl': Watch Clips

posted by mkress

Oscar-nominee Ryan Gosling plays another challenging and off-beat role: A young, socially awkward man who is in love with… a life-sized doll he buys off the Internet. Yet somehow, “Lars” ends up as a sweet story about community, faith, and […]

‘The Abstinence Teacher': Culture Wars Come to the ‘Burbs

posted by mkress

As I’ve mentioned in Idol Chatter before, the novelist Tom Perrotta was a college writing teacher of mine and had a major influence on me professionally, so I’ve avoided reviewing his work in the media. But in his latest novel, […]

‘Sopranos': Fade to Black Revisited

posted by mkress

Not having HBO, I am only now plowing through the “The Sopranos“–all of it–on DVD and am still far from the much-dissected ending. But not living under a rock, I am well aware of the diner, onion rings, Journey song, […]

Exclusive Clip: ‘Music Within’

posted by mkress

“Music Within” tells the story of Vietnam vet Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston), who returns home with a severe hearing loss. Coping with his own new disability, Richard befriends a genius (Michael Sheen) with cerebral palsy, another veteran (Yul Vasquez) suffering […]

‘Thou Shalt Laugh’–And Talk About It

posted by mkress

“Thou Shalt Laugh 2: The Deuce”–like its predecessor and namesake “Thou Shalt Laugh”–features Christian stand-up comedians whose acts are clean and appropriate for the whole family. This one is hosted by Tim Conway, of “Carol Burnett Show” fame. (Patricia Heaton […]

Exclusive Clip: ‘Martian Child’

posted by mkress

In “Martian Child,” John Cusack plays a recently widowed science fiction writer who forms an unlikely family with a close friend (Amanda Peet) and a young boy he adopts–who claims to be from Mars. Scheduled for a Nov. 2 release, […]

Express Yourself

posted by mkress

Beliefnet has launched its new social network! We hope you’ll use this exciting new feature to create profiles, express yourself through your journal, post pictures, audio, and video, and join groups to talk about movies, tv, music, and everything else […]

Talk to the Dead with Lisa Williams

posted by mkress

Lisa Williams, a spiky-haired Brit, talks to the dead on Lifetime’s “Life Among the Dead,” now in its second season. And now you can win a free “reading” with Lisa. Check it out on Lifetime’s website here.

Tyler Perry Rules the Box Office

posted by mkress

As if there was any doubt that the prolific multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry rules the world, “Why Did I Get Married?”–his second release of the year–topped the weekend box office, grossing a reported $21.5 million, almost double its nearest competitor. Congratulations, […]

Al Gore: Nobel, Emmy, Oscar

posted by mkress

Al Gore now adds Nobel Peace Prize winner to a resume that includes Oscar and Emmy wins–not to mention his Beliefnet Film Award for “An Inconvenient Truth.” The news of his Nobel seems like a good reason to revisit the […]

Maybe Christopher Hitchens Is Right

posted by mkress

Under the headline “Does God Read?”, my friend Daniel Septimus has this witty observation over at Mixed Multitudes on MyJewishLearning.com: Maybe God really isn’t great. If He were so great, wouldn’t He have made sure Christopher Hitchens wasn’t nominated for […]

Exclusive Clip: ‘The Final Season’

posted by mkress

Sean Astin and Rachael Leigh Cook star in this inspirational movie about a baseball coach and his small-time, highly successful high-school team, which must learn to cope with major changes and still find a way to win. Opening Friday, watch […]

Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood

posted by mkress

Faith in Hollywood? Yes, it does exist, and our Beliefnet Power List of the Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood proves that Christian faith can survive–and thrive–in the entertainment capital of the world. Click here to see who made the list […]

Win ‘Evan Almighty’ on DVD

posted by mkress

“Evan Almighty,” starring Morgan Freeman as God and Steve Carell as a modern-day Noah, is out on DVD, and we’ve got 10 copies to give away. But first, we want to know: What do you think God looks like? The […]

Exclusive Preview: Tyler Perry’s Latest

posted by mkress

The very prolific Tyler Perry has yet another new movie coming out, his second release of the year (not to mention his TBS sitcom “House of Payne“). In “Why Did I Get Married?” a group of couples go away to […]

No God But God on Network TV

posted by mkress

“Aliens in America” debuted last night on the CW. It’s a sitcom about a Midwestern family that takes in an exchange student hoping for a cool, popular (European) boy to elevate the social standing of their geeky son. Instead, Raja […]

We’ve Got Winners!

posted by mkress

A couple of weeks ago, we posted a giveaway contest for free DVDs of “Beyond the Gates.” The question was “What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?”–and you responded with stories of gut-wrenching, heart-breaking life choices that make […]

Video: ‘I Ran’ on SNL

posted by mkress

A Mets Fan’s Lament

posted by mkress

Dear New York Mets, I imagine that today, one day after your historic late-season collapse, you may be looking for a little religion, something to hold fast to, an anchor amidst the uncertainties and difficulties of life. Let me recommend […]

Do Euthanized Cats Go to Heaven? Top 5 ‘Office’ Religious Moments

posted by mkress

“The Office,” my favorite current TV show, has never been big on faith-focused storylines–except for its hilarious Diwali episode last year–but this year’s season premiere, which I finally caught online last night, was a major excpetion. Religion on “The Office”? […]

The CW Finds Religion

posted by mkress

Is the CW–the child of the teen-focused UPN and WB networks–growing up? The net, now in its second year, is launching two new series with religious themes at their core. “Aliens in America” focuses on a Muslim exchange student in […]

DVD of the Week: ‘The Syrian Bride’

posted by mkress

“The Syrian Bride” is an Israeli movie that points to some of the absurdities and everyday tragedies of a long-term conflict like that between Israel and its neighbors. The movie focuses on a Druze family living in the Golan Heights, […]

Not for Sale

posted by mkress

If you think slavery died with the Civil War, think again. It’s a huge problem today, and getting worse. Dave Batstone’s written a book about it, “Not for Sale,” and he appeared on CBS’ “Eye to Eye” to discuss it. […]

Play or Pray: Is That the Question?

posted by mkress

American Jews have always had a love affair with the stories of Jewish athletes. Sandy Koufax’s refusal to pitch on Yom Kippur is probably the best known and most beloved example. Now here comes Jewish High Holiday season, just in […]

Watch Video: ‘In the Valley of Elah’

posted by mkress

“In the Valley of Elah“–Paul Haggis’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning “Crash”–starts out as a mystery about a soldier who disappears soon after returning home from Iraq. But it soon becomes something more: a full-scale exploration of America’s involvement in Iraq […]

More Patriots Bashing

posted by mkress

Over at J-Walking, our friend David Kuo has harsh words for the Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick, over the football team’s cheating scandal. He goes even further than Doug does here at Idol Chatter, calling for Belichick’s head, or […]

Enter to Win a Free DVD of ‘Beyond the Gates’

posted by mkress

What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make? That’s the question that hovers over “Beyond the Gates,” and it’s one that can win you a free copy of that movie on DVD. Post your answer in the comments box […]

‘The View’s’ New Christian

posted by mkress

After months of speculation, it seems that Barbara Walters is set to name actress Sherri Shepherd as a co-host of “The View.” The formal announcement is expected Monday. While we who slave away in offices all day to bring you […]

‘Beyond Blue’ on Owen Wilson

posted by mkress

We here at Idol Chatter can fulminate all we want about media coverage of Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt, but Therese Borchard over at Beyond Blue, a blog all about mental health, can actually speak to how we can process and […]

‘Friday Night Lights’ Winning Season

posted by mkress

Many of us cheered when NBC renewed “Friday Night Lights” for a second season. The primetime high school football drama is heavy on great acting, inspirational and real storylines, and great characters. But before settling into the bleachers (or your […]

‘September Dawn’ & Mormonism: Your Responses

posted by mkress

Sometimes, arguing about a movie or TV show becomes a debate over some aspect of faith, society, and life. So much for dismissing entertainment as “just a movie/TV show” that is inherently lacking in larger meaning. The best debates on […]

‘September Dawn’s’ Mormon Terrorists

posted by mkress

A group of religious fanatics led by a bloodthirsty leader who preaches the violence of “blood atonement” ruthlessly murders a group of peaceful travelers. This, in a sentence, is the plot of “September Dawn”, starring Jon Voight and opening Aug. […]

Intelligent Design Gets Bad to the Bone

posted by mkress

B-B-B-Bad to the Bone. Rebel truth-seekers vs. complacent status-quo defenders. Free thinkers vs. conformist mind controllers. A fight for good vs. evil, a struggle for the soul of a people. All set to the strains of George Thorogood’s early-80s rebel […]

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dire Warning

posted by mkress

Watch a video clip from “The 11th Hour,” a new documentary narrated and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio about the environmental crisis–and what we can do about it: Click to Watch the Video

Watch ‘Arctic Tale’ Clips

posted by mkress

Part “March of the Penguins,” part “Inconvenient Truth,” “Arctic Tale” is a new documentary, narrated by Queen Latifah and produced by the National Geographic Society. We’ve got three video clips from the movie: She Could Drown Practicing For the Seal […]

Top 10 Jewish TV Characters

posted by mkress

These days, it seems, memorable Jewish television characters are scarce. But it wasn’t always so. So without further ado, here is one yid’s (that’s me) Top 10 Jewish TV Characters: 1) Herschel Pinkus Yerucham Krustofski, “The Simpsons“: He may be […]

Michael Moore on ‘Sicko’

posted by mkress

‘The Simpsons’ World of Faith

posted by mkress

“The Simpsons” movie may not have lived up to it’s almost-two-decades of build-up–could it possibly have?–but I laughed my way through it nevertheless. From Homer’s “Spider Pig” song to Bart’s full-frontal-nudity skateboard trip through town, to Marge and Homer’s romantic […]

Sad State of Sports

posted by mkress

Baseball is about to annoint a new home run king who has allegedly boosted his late-career stats with the help of steroids. Basketball is coping with a referee accused of betting on the game, including games he worked. Football is […]

The Desperate Barry Bonds

posted by mkress

I’ll start by saying that I feel a sense of awe and history when imagining the moment when Barry Bonds’ 756th home run will sail over the outfield wall, sending him into the history books with the most career home […]

Harry Potter vs. the Jews

posted by mkress

Saturday is Harry Potter day (starting at 12:01am). But you know that already. The problem is, Harry Potter day is Saturday–or, for us observant Jews, Shabbat, the Sabbath, day of rest, yadda yadda. Of course, nothing is more relaxing and […]

The Scientologist Behind the Curtain

posted by mkress

Unless you’re a true Hollywood insider (or a N.Y. Times magazine reader), you’ve never heard of Milton Katselas. But this veteran acting coach is responsible for shaping countless souls into true actors. Head of an acting school called the Beverly […]

Paula Abdul’s Jewish Life

posted by mkress

I knew Paula Abdul was Jewish, but in this video, she talks with two Orthodox rabbis at a Chabad house about lighting Shabbat candles, praying, and living Jewish, as they compliment her dedication and assure us it’s real. Props to […]

Borat Conquers JewTube

posted by mkress

Thanks to our friends at Mixed Multitudes for the heads up about the latest site in the ever-burgeoning Jewish web world: JewTube.com. Yes, our very own YouTube. The site gets points for being clean and uncluttered, though the there doesn’t […]

Will Harry Potter Die? Should He?

posted by mkress

Harry Potter mania began long ago–or, rather, never stopped–and while I am not personally a Potter fanatic, I am married to one and work with several others, so it’s impossible not to be caught up in the predictions, analyses, and […]

‘Studio 60′: Love in the Time of Culture Wars

posted by mkress

Last night’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (yes, still on television, briefly, as it finishes airing its remaining original episodes) was so faith-focused, it’s hard to know where to start. The show had largely abandoned its obsession with the […]

Classy Mindy Doo Rocks EW!

posted by mkress

Entertainment Weekly has posted video of the top three “American Idol” finalists visiting the magazine’s offices, and once again, I am reminded that Melinda Doolittle was just about the classiest, most talented contestant the show has seen. In the five-minute […]

‘The Yiddish Policeman’s Union': Novel Brings Jews to Alaska

posted by mkress

Reading Michael Chabon’s new “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,” you can almost visualize the film noir to which this gripping novel pays homage–the down-and-out boozer of a detective, cracking wise as he pursues the truth; the mysterious murder victim, found dead […]

It’s Tribeca Time!

posted by mkress

One of the true joys of living in New York these days is the Tribeca Film Festival, started in the wake of 9/11 by none other than Martin Scorsese. This year’s extravaganza opens on Wednesday, and as always, the festival’s […]

Imus Is the Tip of the Iceberg

posted by mkress

The question, to me, is not whether Imus should have been fired for his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball players; it’s why he was fired for these comments in particular–or rather, why he, and countless other shock-jocks like him, […]

A Word of Thanksgiving for Opening Day

posted by mkress

Amidst the intensity of Holy Week for Christians and the joy of Passover for Jews comes the secular festival known as Opening Day. Even as I frantically cleaned my apartment for Passover last night, I dilligently checked the Mets score […]

Return of ‘The Peaceful Warrior’

posted by mkress

“The Peaceful Warrior,” starring Nick Nolte, returns to theaters this weekend following its short-lived limited release last summer. In this screen version of Dan Millman’s “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” a young gymnast finds hope and learns to achieve […]

‘Peaceful Warrior,’ Again. For Free.

posted by mkress

If, like most of the world, you missed last year’s limited theatrical release of “Peaceful Warrior,” fret not. Universal is giving the film a second life, releasing it in theaters again on March 30. And to promote the release, Universal […]

So the Beatles Are Bigger Than Jesus?

posted by mkress

Amidst all the hoopla over the past couple of weeks about the alleged discovery of the tombs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, James Cameron–the “Titanic” director who produced the documentary “The Jesus Family Tomb”–offered this gem of a comment: Grasping […]

Sometimes a Game Is Only a Game

posted by mkress

Time was, not so long ago, that the game superseded just about anything for professional athletes. Perhaps a day off was warranted if a close family member died, but not much else could tear a player away from those temporary, […]

LIVE FROM SUNDANCE: “Grace is Gone” but not Forgotten

posted by mkress

The only double award winner for drama at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival was James C. Strouse’s powerful debut film, “Grace is Gone.” John Cusack gives a remarkably restrained performance as Stanley Philips, a father of two girls, confronted by […]

LIVE FROM SUNDANCE: Competing Monasteries

posted by mkress

Who would guess that the Sundance Film Festival would offer not one, but two compelling stories of life inside Russian Orthodox monasteries? “The Island” is a dark, foreboding, but ultimately transcendent film set on an icy Russian setting. “The Monastery: […]

LIVE FROM SUNDANCE: The Fake Dakota Fanning Controversy

posted by mkress

The fake controversy surrounding Dakota Fanning’s new film, “Hounddog“–in which the child actress plays a victim of abuse who, in one much-discussed scene, is raped–demonstrates the unfortunate and continuing power of a press release. Political activists on both sides of […]

LIVE AT SUNDANCE: The Next “Napoleon Dynamite”?

posted by mkress

Don’t mistake “Eagle vs. Shark” for your average love story. This “romantic comedy turned on its head” by New Zealand director Taiko Waititi was one of the most talked-about premieres at Sundance. I heard at a previous screening someone called […]

A Rabbi Walks Into a Bar…

posted by mkress

I finally saw “The Aristocrats” this weekend, and will refrain from adding–at this late date–to the reams of commentary on this documentary about the telling and retelling of a single, legendary, vile joke by professional comedians. In a completely unrelated […]

Amish ‘Anatomy’

posted by mkress

For the most part, there isn’t always a lot of grace shown at “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Seattle Grace Hospital. The show dabbles with the “diseases” of the human condition, those murky, dirty, selfish gray areas of torrid love affairs, ruthless competitiveness, […]

“American Idol”: Embarrassing Tryout Edition

posted by mkress

Are the “American Idol” judges mean–and getting meaner by the season–or should contestants’ family and friends be more honest in advising them to stay off national TV? Our bloggers Ellen Leventry and Dena Ross debate this very topic, but what […]

LIVE FROM SUNDANCE: The Sophomore Slump?

posted by mkress

Given our cultural obsession with the new and the novel, perhaps nothing is as daunting as following initial success. The sophomore slump can hamper creative efforts and lead to artistic blocks or overreaching. In 2005, director Craig Brewer (at right, […]

From the “Little Mosque” Creator: “Putting the Fun Back in Fundamentalism”

posted by mkress

How do you bring a little fun back into fundamentalism? By making a sitcom, as Zarqa Nawaz is fond of saying. Nawaz is the creator of the new Canadian TV series “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” The show debuted Jan. […]

Tyler Perry’s Latest: Exclusively on Beliefnet

posted by mkress

A couple of years ago, Tyler Perry came out of nowhere–at least for white Americans–with the smashing success of his film “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” A well-known playwright and actor among African Americans, Perry was suddenly one of […]

LIVE FROM SUNDANCE: The WindRider Forum

posted by mkress

Edgy, independent, artsy. Over the past 25 years, the Sundance Film Festival has become the place to discover new talent and launch original films. From first-time filmmakers searching for their big break to established stars seeking “indie” credibility, thousands of […]

A Couple “Little Mosque on the Prairie” Clips

posted by mkress

“Little Mosque on the Prairie”?

posted by mkress

No, it’s not a joke. The CBC–a major Canadian broadcasting network–premieres a long awaited, much talked about new television series called “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” tonight at 8:30pm. And, it’s a sitcom! That’s right–a comedy about being Muslim and […]

‘God Grew Tired of Us’

posted by mkress

A clip from a new documentary about the Lost Boys of Sudan, some of whom came to America:

Top Family Films of 2006

posted by mkress

‘Tis the season of year-end best-of lists, and Beliefnet is no exception. Check out our Top Ten Family Films of 2006 gallery here, compiled by Sharon Linnea, our Reel Inspirational columnist. Sharon’s kids also made their own best-movies lists here. […]

A Twisted Sister Christmas

posted by mkress

Christmas may be behind us, but it’s never too late to enjoy Twisted Sister’s take on Christmas classics. Here’s an animated video of their “Come All Ye Faithful”: For more celebrity Christmas carol fun, click here.

RIP: James Brown (1933-2006)

posted by mkress

Conan: Good Priest, Bad Priest

posted by mkress

Caroling with the Stars

posted by mkress

The holiday season means it’s busy time here at Beliefnet, and there are a couple of new features that we think Idol Chatter readers will love. The first is Caroling with the Stars–music from some of the year’s best celebrity […]

The Horrific Beauty of “Blood Diamond”

posted by mkress

I liked “Blood Diamond” for a lot of little reasons and one big one. I liked it because Leonardo DiCaprio seemed more like a man’s man–or at least an adult–than he did as Howard Hughes in “The Aviator” or other […]

Jon Stewart: The War on Christmas Is Over!

posted by mkress

Mel Gibson’s Book of Revelation

posted by mkress

Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” is a story about pagan Mayan Indians who offer ghastly human sacrifice to their gods, hunt tapirs to bloody deaths, and fill their leisure hours playing bawdy practical jokes on each other. It is also a deeply […]

‘Apocalypto': Blame It on the Jews

posted by mkress

A funny (if somewhat low-blow) fake movie trailer from SNL explains what those Mayans are really saying:

Seduced by ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’

posted by mkress

Looking for a holiday feel-good movie with an inspirational message? A family-friendly tale of father-son devotion that uses the F-word in a heartwarming way? A spiritual flick that embodies some of the highest ideals of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, […]

The Nativity Story: Pregnant Actor Too Much?

posted by mkress

“The Nativity Story,” director Catherine Hardwicke’s film version of the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, had its world premiere on Sunday at the Vatican. (It opens in the U.S. this week.) Some 7,000 people, including Hardwicke and several high-ranking cardinals, […]

The Jonestown Mystery

posted by mkress

The first image you see in Stanley Nelson’s new documentary “Jonestown: the Life and Death of the Peoples Temple” is a row of smiling young faces–black and white, teens and 20-somethings–taken under a blue and sunny sky. They look as […]

For Your Consideration: The Small Indy Film “Home for Purim”

posted by mkress

The relatively minor Jewish holiday of Purim is having its moment in the cinematic sun. First came “One Night With the King,” a dramatization of the Book of Esther, which is read in synagogues on Purim and whose story the […]

Will “Studio 60″ Jump the Cross?

posted by mkress

I saw a promo for Monday night’s “Studio 60” episode and couldn’t help wondering: Is this the week that the show–to coin, or at least adapt, a phrase–jumps the cross? As you probably know, “jumping the shark” has come to […]

Nancy Pelosi’s SNL Moment

posted by mkress

“Saturday Night Live” opened with this Nancy Pelosi impersonation–in which Kristen Wiig, playing the Speaker-elect, gives voice to every conservative caricature of (and fear about) Democrats, including the notion that liberals are anti-faith. “And whatever you might have heard,” Wiig […]

The Simpsons’ Golem

posted by mkress

Watch a clip from “The Simpsons” Golem story:

Madonna Speaks about the Cross

posted by mkress

On “Dateline” last night, Madonna spoke about the controversy over her adopting an African baby–and, of course, about that other controversy, over her on-stage crucifixion act. Watch that section of the interview:

Some Halloween Fun: Do the Monster Mash!

posted by mkress

The Yentl Effect

posted by mkress

Though “The Simpsons” was a repeat last night, it was new to me, and–though I am not sure why this fascinates me as much as it does–I couldn’t help catching what was at least the second reference to Barbra Streisand’s […]

See Devi Slay the Fallen God!

posted by mkress

Hindu goddesses and saints dressed in tight-fitting leotards and modern clothes, walking the violent streets of modern cities, wielding fantastic weapons and fighting evil and wrongdoers: You’ll find all of this and more in the new Shakti line of comics […]

Vanity of Vanities, Is Baseball All Vanity?

posted by mkress

A few weeks ago, toward the end of a festive holiday meal, the rabbi of my synagogue threw out a light-hearted challenge to us. This was back when both the Mets and the Yankees were still in the playoff hunt, […]

The Sad Truths of “Flags of Our Fathers”

posted by mkress

We like when things are neatly packaged and easily grasped, one character in Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers” tells us: good and evil, heroes and villains. “Most of the time they aren’t. But we think they are.” The movie, […]

David Kuo on Colbert

posted by mkress

Video of last night’s appearance on “The Colbert Report” of David Kuo, Beliefnet’s Washington editor and author of the new book “Tempting Faith“:

Truman Capote’s “Infamous” Life of Artifice

posted by mkress

Is there room for two movies about Truman Capote? That’s the multimillion dollar question Hollywood is asking about “Infamous” (opening in limited release Friday), which tells the story of how the larger-than-life writer researched and wrote his groundbreaking nonfiction novel […]

The Tao of A-Rod?

posted by mkress

Could it be that Alex Rodriguez has let go of the superstitions that most athletes would have you believe decide their fate and instead hopes to achieve inner peace and self-love through self-help books? One of the more over-analyzed athletes […]

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham!

posted by mkress

From a late-1960s Woody Allen talk show:

“Little Children,” Tom Perrotta, & Me

posted by mkress

This is a story of gratitude, and that’s why I am excited about “Little Children.” Not that the story has anything to do with gratitude; it’s a hilarious, biting social satire about suburban boredom and grown men and women acting […]

Here’s to the Playoffs!

posted by mkress

Sure, back in April I blogged about my love for baseball’s Opening Day, with all its hope and possibility. And I am sure I meant it at the time. But, 162 grueling games later, my N.Y. Mets are staring at […]

ABC News’ “Jesus Camp” Report

posted by mkress

Watch the YouTube video that helped fuel the ongoing controversy over the documentary “Jesus Camp“:

Previous Posts

Exclusive Sneak Peek from Episode 9 of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ featuring Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
[jwvideo vid='BvyIgfYp' pid='GvkPWNBE'] In an exclusive sneak peek from a brand new episode of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey share not only what we will see in this coming episode but also a ...

posted 2:46:09pm May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts Releases First EP Album, Receives Rave Reviews
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZkS1rx_5Hk[/youtube] Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts has released “Canyon Worship”, its first extended play album, and it’s already climbing Christian music charts for good ...

posted 10:59:32am May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Box Office Blockbuster...or Blunder?
The Wall Street Journal reports that this Memorial Day Weekend, normally a blockbuster box office weekend, is one that Hollywood may wish for a mulligan. Disney's "Tomorrowland" didn't bring out the numbers, as expected. Granted, there are ...

posted 11:39:02am May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Letterman Bids Farewell Tonight
It's David Lettman's last episode interviewing, so what do you do? Well have his first guest, ever, Bill Murray pop out of a cake - of course! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8MY9CD-tQ[/youtube] Murray appeared on the first late ...

posted 9:03:34am May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Finding Neverland - On a Stage!
Calling all fans of Lost Boys!             You loved Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, right? The film about J.M. Barrie in 2004 is back - in the form of a Broadway ...

posted 12:53:47pm May. 19, 2015 | read full post »

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